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Volunteering, Income Support Programs and Disabled Persons

  • Campolieti , Michele
  • Gomez, Rafael
  • Gunderson, Morley

We study the propensity of disabled persons to engage in volunteer activity with the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) -- a unique Canadian dataset which provides extensive information on disabled persons as well as volunteering behaviour. Our principal focus is on the effects of various income support programs on disabled person’s participation in volunteer activities. We find that certain income support programs (e.g., workers’ compensation) are associated with decreases in the probability of volunteering while others (e.g., Pension Plans) are associated with increases in the propensity to volunteer. The reason is that not all income support programs are identical with respect to their implications for unpaid work. There are some – like workers compensation – that embody strong disincentives to volunteering while others like public Pensions that explicitly encourage unpaid work. Our conclusion is that program characteristics can significantly affect volunteering. This conclusion is further supported when we look at other income support programs that embody ambiguous or no incentive effects. As one would anticipate, these ‘incentive neutral’ programs have no significant impact on volunteering. The relevance of these results to both theories of volunteerism and public policy is discussed.

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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2009-16.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 16 Feb 2009
Date of revision: 16 Feb 2009
Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2009-16
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," NBER Working Papers 5435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  3. Day, K.M. & Devlin, R.A., 1993. "The Payoff to Work without Pay: Volunteer Work as an Investment in Human Capital," Working Papers 9310e, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  4. Kathleen M. Day & Rose Anne Devlin, 1996. "Volunteerism and Crowding Out: Canadian Econometric Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 37-53, February.
  5. Carol Woodhams & Susan Corby, 2007. "Then and Now: Disability Legislation and Employers' Practices in the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(3), pages 556-580, 09.
  6. Rafael Gomez & Eric Santor, 2001. "Membership has its priveleges : the effect of social capital and neighbourhood characteristics on the earnings of microfinance borrowers," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 361, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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